Maybe not this time
I am one of the 16 million plus Filipinos who elected Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016.
I agreed with him that the root of the ills that afflict the Philippines is illegal drugs. Thus, I trusted in his advocacy against drug abuse.
I honestly believed that his hard-line crusade against drug pushing and drug using is the only way to rid the country of crime and criminality. His promise that he will cleanse our streets of this menace within six months from his election is too good to pass. Though he did not fulfill his promise, I remain proud that he was my candidate. I still retain the notion that I did not make a mistake.
Through the entirety of Duterte’s term as a President, he gave us a daily dose of cursing and cussing. It was entertaining at first but, as it became obvious that this is part of his personality, it was no longer funny. His rant against his critics borders threats.
To go against him is to go against his millions of trolls who are capable of wearing away your dignity. Still, I believe that he is one of the best Presidents we ever had, given that he has a very strong will and a stronger personality. His connection with the masa is remarkable. With this, I asked myself, “If given the chance to elect him again, will I do it? Maybe not this time. Not because he is incompetent but because my loyalty to my President ends when my loyalty to the constitution begins.
It is already official that Duterte will be the candidate of the administration for vice president in the forthcoming national election. After many months of denial and courting, he finally relented and accepted the nomination saying that there is no prohibition for him to slide to a lower position. He is confident that based on his high rating and unparalleled popularity, he will get elected in a breeze. Really?
The victory of Duterte as vice president will surely not be as easy as he thinks. There are several factors that will work against him. First, his presidential running mate will matter a lot. If it is Sen. Bong Go, their pair will not be trustworthy since we all know how submissive Go is to Duterte. Should both win, it will create an undesirable scenario where the president will be subservient to the vice president. A first in our history. The least that we want in our leader is to become a puppet. It gives rise to a case of what the Constitution prohibits to be done directly will be done indirectly.
Second, the recent developments on how the President dealt with the Covid-19 crisis does not bode well for his candidacy. The ongoing Senate investigation regarding the alleged overpriced purchases of personal protective equipment smacks of corruption. That he defended the personalities involved instead of urging them to face their accusers is a blot to his credibility.
His failure to distance himself from Health Sec. Francisco Duque who is being asked to resign by many quarters due to incompetence is an odd display of fidelity. The outburst of his spokesperson, Harry Roque, which went viral on the Internet, shall not help a bit. While it was not the President who personally made the tirade, words emanating from his mouthpiece is as much his.
Third, we have seen enough of Duterte that it is time to give others a chance. He is already old and weary. Even his health is suspect. He has admitted on several occasions his desire to resign because he cannot deal with the rigors of politics. Can he go on for another six years, even if the magnitude of the work of the vice president is not the same as the President? I do not think so. He is a tired man, stressed out by his service to the country. You can see it in his face and in his body language. It is time for him to rest and enjoy the perks of his retirement.
Fourth, I think Duterte is seeking the vice presidency for the wrong reason. He anticipates that after he steps down from office, he will be deluged with cases. As early as now, there are threats of litigation against him. The only way to avoid these is to obtain immunity from suit. The vice president, during his term, is immune from suit. Maybe, this is what he is banking on.
In all, Duterte should just sail on and start living a quiet life. He has had his time and to extend it further will not produce any desirable result. I firmly believe that he has done enough that there is nothing more he can give. He has nothing else to prove. Shall I elect him for another term as vice president? No more.